Who Benefits the Most from Volunteering?
Is volunteering rewarding in itself? People volunteer for all sorts of reasons and the subject is discussed frequently, particularly in non-profit organisations, such as the BIWC, where its very existence depends on it. We do not volunteer, for the most part, because it benefits us. We volunteer because it makes a difference. There are in fact numerous benefits to volunteering. Personal growth, cultivating friendships and community spirit, all which contribute to our well-being and a sense of achievement, in turn can improve self-esteem.
We notice a subtle shift in ourselves when we volunteer. We feel more connected to others and we become less absorbed in the normal stresses of daily life as we share our experiences with others. The benefits of consistent socialising in this way, include better brain function and lower risk for depression and anxiety. One American report says that people who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest people, because invariably it involves being active in some way.
BIWC relies on volunteers to fulfil all its obligations and offer all the wonderful activities that are organised every single month. Every effort is appreciated no matter how big or small. Volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. If you are ready to make new friends, improve your mental and physical health and maybe develop new skills or indeed share your skills in the process, please consider supporting your Club by giving something back. The Club needs you.
Robina Lillecrapp – one of BIWC’s International Coordinators
This is a dedication from member Jinping to her English teacher, Barbara, Coordinator of BIWC’s English Speakers Group:
Barbara has been organizing the English Speakers Group for many years. It is a small but very friendly group of ladies from different countries. She is an excellent
teacher with great passion. We experience that every time. We meet in a typical Berlin café every two weeks. A few days before the meeting, she sends us interesting articles on various topics, for example, British culture, history, traditions, customs, well-known and strong women, etc. With the article, she always sends us a few grammar exercises. At the meeting, she first explains the subject of the article. She speaks slowly and clearly. It’s such a pleasure to hear her native Eng- lish. Then she starts a little discussion with a few questions, so that every lady may express her opinion freely. Barbara is very patient and listens to each lady. Every lady is allowed to read a section of the article aloud. Barbara then answers every linguistic and substantive question about the article. Sometimes she corrects our pronunciation and grammatical mistakes, so that we really learn a lot every time.
Before we do the grammar exercises, Barbara first explains some grammatical rules and peculiarities of the current exercises. Grammatical exercises are a lot of fun for me personally because, unfortunately, I have forgotten a lot of what I learnt at university. I learn something new from Barbara every time. We are always surprised how quickly two hours pass.
Every Christmas we meet at Barbara ́s or another lady ́s home to celebrate Christmas together. We read English texts and enjoy Christmas cookies and drinks. Barbara tells us something about Christmas traditions from Britain. All ladies are very interested and ask a lot of questions. The mood is so relaxed and comfortable.
I’m really happy to have been able to participate in the English Speakers Group for two years. Other ladies speak English much better than me. They are very patient and helpful too. I am very grateful.
I would like to say to Barbara: Thank you very much for your huge efforts. Looking forward to our next meeting, as ever.
Lorena from Majorca, Spain
While many Berliners dream of escaping to the warmth and beauty of an island in Spain, new Club member, Lorena Fa Everatt, decided to move the other way.
Lorena was born and grew up on Majorca and later moved to Barcelona to study Art History and Interior Design. However, like many young people, she found that the economic recession meant fewer jobs for graduates without practical experience.
Her ensuing travels, including a spell in Frankfurt as an au pair, gave her plenty of new skills which come in useful now she is permanently settled in Berlin with her partner Craig and 5-year-old step-son, Scott. As well as working in a pharma company, 33-year-old Lorena is also an aromatherapy advisor, having discovered that essential oils cured her own skin problems. She is currently studying for a specialisation in feminine health.
She joined the BIWC in May this year and, as one of her hobbies is handicraft, she would like to start a Club group, teaching crochet, sewing, beadwork, lampshade-making and papier-mâché skills.
I want to help other members gain confidence in their own creativity. Beginners would be very welcome as well as those with some experience. I think the Club is such a great place for people who want to share their skills with others. We can all learn from each other.
Members are welcome to contact Lorena at email@example.com
Our thanks go to member Liz Stolls for talking to Lorena. Liz will be attending future Meet & Greets. She hopes that members will be happy to have a chat with her so that we can find out more about them on our website.
Zeenat from Australia
Megan Thudium from the USA
The BIWC is a wonderful group to be part of for its warm, welcoming and friendly members having embraced me with open arms from the beginning. As a person of diverse interests, the BIWC has allowed me to interact and take part in various social activities like charity, culture and music – and make a few like-minded friends along the way.
Shortly after joining the Club, Megan volunteered to join the web team and will help us to revamp BIWC’s website. The project will take about six months so watch this space!
Ina, BIWC’s Web & IT Coordinator, interviews Deborah from the USA
How long have you been a member of the BIWC?
I have been a member since about 2000.
Why did you join the Club?
I joined the Club to be with English native speakers. A whole new world opened up for me, that is to say, a completely different view of life in Berlin for a foreigner.
What do you appreciate about the Club?
The possibility of finding interesting and open-minded women for any new idea, for example, starting a new Mahjongg group.
Which activities do you participate in?
I began with a dog walking group, then joined the tennis players. Later I led the French group, joined Film Buffs and started writing film reviews which I still enjoy doing. For a while, I was a member of the web team and looked after the Club’s secret Facebook Group.
What can you give back to the Club?
I give my time and energy as a volunteer in various positions.
Lucy Jacobs from the USA
Lucy returned to Berlin in May 1991 after having spent the summer 1990 in the city between her 3rd and 4th years at university. Two weeks after graduation, she was on the plane and has never looked back!
She became a member in 1994, after hearing about the BIWC at the farewell activities for the US military base. Sue Williams, membership secretary at the time, was there promoting the BIWC and Lucy thought it sounded like an interesting Club to join. Although she was already established in Berlin and not actively seeking contact to the international community, she says the Club did provide a wonderful opportunity to meet women from around the world. Lucy describes the various important roles she has played in the BIWC….
Carol Marquardt from the UK
Carol became a member of the BIWC in October 2012. Since joining the Club, she has had the “privilege” (to quote Carol) of serving on the Executive Committee (EC). From March 2014 to March 2016, she held two very responsible positions, that of Secretary for two years and in her final year she was Vice President. Both very different in their areas of responsibility, but both gave her a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. Leaving the EC after three intense years, she felt at a loss, no longer playing an active role. Carol would like to appeal to members to volunteer to take on an active role in the Club, offer their skills and learn new ones.
Carol did return to the Executive Committee in 2018, this time in the role of President.
Joan Luft from the USA
Joan became a member of the BIWC in 2014 and has joined in the activities of German Speakers, Exploring Berlin, and the occasional Meet and Greet. She plans to sample other activities as time allows. Joan says that BIWC has been a big plus in her life in Berlin and she is happy to do what she can to support its activities. Joan was Vice-President of the Club for one year, and then became IT & Web Coordinator for the following two years. This year she is a member of the web team.
In her free time, Joan set out to discover Berlin by walking along canal routes and surrounding lakes. Here are some of her favourites…
Hilary Horsfield from the UK
Hilary used to be the Club’s Public Relations Officer on the Executive Committee (EC). In a letter to BIWC members in one of our monthly Newsletters, she strongly endorses the Club …